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Lakeview Restaurant Sandwich Me In Wastes Not ... Literally

By Erika Kubick in Food on Mar 5, 2014 4:50PM


A quick-service restaurant in Lakeview is saving the environment one pulled pork sandwich at a time. Since opening in May 2012, Sandwich Me In has only accumulated eight pounds of garbage. Owner Justin Vrany is so committed to limiting his restaurant’s carbon footprint that he personally delivers his recyclables to the proper drop-off location. Vrany also recycles leftover cooking oil through Aurora Tallow, composts his produce scraps for Bryant Family Farms and powers his restaurant with wind energy. By sourcing ingredients from nearby farms such as Gunthorp farms, Quarter Circle Seven ranch and Local Folks farm, his store also reduces fossil fuels emitted during transportation. He estimates that he has lowered the current carbon footprint by 85 percent but is working to bring that number to 100 percent.

According to Vrany, 90 percent of the accumulated eight pounds is made up of waste from unsuspecting passerby’s leaving empty coffee cups. He has reserved the eight pounds and is hoping to find a talented and resourceful artist who can use the materials. While Sandwich Me In's garbage can remains empty, they are still required by city law to pay for a monthly pick up.

Vrany studied at Kendall college and has worked at many establishments in Chicago, including Mindy’s Hot Chocolate and The Ritz Carlton. His culinary philosophy embraces food that is not only healthy for the earth, but also for the body too. He never uses processed ingredients, which usually include wasteful packaging in addition to chemicals and additives. Instead, he employs a from-scratch method and makes 98% of his menu in house, including a daily selection of non-alcoholic beverages. In order to make the most of his locally sourced ingredients, he carefully adjusts the menu so that every ingredient that comes through the doors is used.

The menu features sandwiches, soups and salads of all kinds, including gluten-free and vegetarian options. Vrany recommends the “dynamite” pulled pork sandwich, made with meat smoked for 13 hours, lathered in homemade BBQ sauce and served on a baked black strap molasses wheat roll. He also raves about the seasonal vegetarian, which is now featuring an unusual but tasty combination of butternut squash, granny smith apples and celery seed.

Through his diligent and impassioned work, Justin Vrany is showing us all that we foodies can change the world. Stop in and support a business who is working to change the way we look at food waste.

Read more about Sandwich Me In's environmental endeavors at

Sandwich Me In is located at 3037 N. Clark St.